Everyone who has experienced poor sleep knows how it affects daytime functioning and wellbeing. A good night’s rest and a stable sleep-wake rhythm are therefore very important. The sleep-wake rhythm is regulated by several brain structures. People with an intellectual disability (ID) all have some form of brain dysfunction, and might therefore be at risk for sleep disturbances.[1-2] During the process of ageing, brain structures that are important in regulating the sleep-wake rhythm show functional deterioration,[ 3] resulting in for example waking up too early in the morning and daytime sleepiness. Also, the architecture of night sleep changes, leading to a decreased ability to initiate and maintain sleep.[4] As a result of a combination of pre-existent brain damage and the age-related changes, older adults with ID might be extra vulnerable to develop sleep-wake rhythm disturbances. Until now no epidemiological research has been performed on this topic in this population. Because life expectancy nowadays has increased in people with ID, knowledge about night sleep and the sleep-wake rhythm is of importance for optimal care in this population. Also, for both epidemiological research and individual diagnostics of sleep problems, an objective tool to investigate sleep that is suitable for older adults with ID, is needed. In this chapter, after some background information on intellectual disability, sleep regulation and ageing, we will introduce the Healthy Ageing and Intellectual Disabilities study and the selected method to investigate sleep and the sleep-wake rhythm in that study, followed by the aims and outline of this thesis.

Abrona, Huis ter Heide, the Netherlands, Amarant, Tilburg, the Netherlands, Ipse de Bruggen, Zwammerdam, the Netherlands, Kempenhaeghe (Heeze, the Netherlands), Nederlandse vereniging voor Slaap – en Waak Onderzoek (NSWO), The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development, Wave Medical, Heerenveen, the Netherlands (no conflict of interest)
H.M. Evenhuis (Heleen)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van de Wouw-Van Dijk, E. (2013, May 29). Sleep and Sleep-wake Rhythm in Older Adults with Intellectual Disabilities. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/40241